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For the Love of English 02

Vocabulary

There will be 20 new words to learn every week, and you will find some other useful sections related to these words below. There is also the quiz by the end of the week to check if you can still remember these words. Come on! It's just a bit of fun, is it not?
Adverse

Definition: (adj.) unfavorable, negative; working against, hostile

Example: Some people suffer an adverse reaction if they eat peanut butter or anything with peanuts.

Synonym: difficult, trying

Antonym: favorable, positive, helpful, beneficial

Arid

Definition: (adj.) extremely dry; uninteresting, dull

Example: Although California leads the nation in farming, crops won’t grow in its most arid regions.

Synonym: waterless, parched, boring, unimaginative

Antonym: waterlogged, soggy, fertile, lush

Assailant

Definition: (n.) a person who attacks violently (with blows or words)

Example: The jogger was injured by an unknown assailant who left him immobile at the side of the road.

Synonym: assaulter, attacker, mugger

Antonym: victim, prey, injured party

Billow

Definition: (n.) a large wave; (v.) to rise or swell like a wave

Example: The ocean billow rose and fell, attracting the most daring surfers. | Fans cheered enthusiastically when they saw their team’s flags billow over the stadium.

Synonym: (n.) breaker; (v.) surge, bulge, balloon

Antonym: (n.) trough; (v.) deflate, collapse

confront

Definition: (v.) to meet face-to-face, especially as a challenge; come to grips with

Example: In court, defendants can confront their accusers in a controlled setting.

Synonym: face, encounter

Antonym: avoid, evade, sidestep

Constain

Definition: (v.) to force, compel; to restrain, hold back

Example: You can’t constrain me against my will.

Synonym: pressure, restrict, confine, limit

Antonym: loosen, liberate, unfetter, relax

Contemporary

Definition: (adj.) belonging to the same period of time as oneself; (n.) person of the same time

Example: His novel used a contemporary style but had a historical setting. | Rather than ask parents for help, teens often turn to a contemporary for advice.

Synonym: (adj.) present-day, modern, current; (n.) peer

Antonym: (adj.) ancient, prehistoric, antique, antiquated

depict

Definition: (v.) to portray, to represent or show in the form of a picture

Example: The painter chose to depict a plain prairie landscape using bold colors and shadows.

Synonym: sketch, draw, picture, illustrate

disinterested

Definition: (adj.) fair-minded, free from selfish motives; indifferent

Example: A judge must remain disinterested in order to render an evenhanded and logical decision.

Synonym: neutral, impartial, unbiased, apathetic

Antonym: partial, biased, prejudiced

encompass

Definition: (v.) to encircle, go or reach around; to enclose; to include with a certain group or class

Example: Oceans encompass about three-fourths of the surface of the planet.

Synonym: surround, envelop, comprise

Antonym: leave out, omit, exclude

groundless

Definition: (adj.) without any good reason or cause, unjustified

Example: Kate’s groundless fear of hurting herself during exercise has left her weak and out of shape.

Synonym: baseless, unsupported

Antonym: well-founded, reasonable, justified

hypocrite

Definition: (n.) a person who pretends to be what he or she is not or better than he or she really is; a two-faced person

Example: The speaker who said one thing but did something else entirely was regarded as a hypocrite.

Synonym: phony, charlatan, fraud

incomprehensible

Definition: (adj.) impossible to understand

Example: Our school’s intercom system is so old that this morning’s announcements were almost incomprehensible.

Synonym: baffling, confusing, bewildering

Antonym: understandable, clear, plain, intelligible

manipulate

Definition: (v.) to handle or use skillfully; to manage or control for personal gain or advantage

Example: Scientists should not manipulate data.

Synonym: work, maneuver, exploit, influence

maximum

Definition: (n.) the greatest possible amount or degree; (adj.) reaching the greatest possible amount or degree

Example: The postage scale can weigh a maximum of only five pounds.

Synonym: largest, highest, utmost

Antonym: least, lowest, minimum, smallest

mimic

Definition: (n.) a person who does imitations; (v.) to imitate; to make fun of

Example: The comedy troupe has many talented members, but it still needs to hire a good mimic.

Synonym: (n.) copycat, impersonator; (v.) parrot, impersonate

ruffle

Definition: (v.) to wrinkle, make uneven; to annoy, upset; to flip through; (n.) a gathered strip of material used for trimming edges; a ripple; a low drumbeat

Example: Try not to let wisecracks ruffle your feelings. | My favorite pillow is soft and fluffy to the touch and has a velvet ruffle.

Synonym: (v.) disturb; (n.) frill

Antonym: (v.) smooth out, soothe

serene

Definition: (adj.) peaceful, calm; free of emotional upset; clear and free of storm; majestic, grand

Example: How does she manage to stay so serene in the face of such chaos?

Synonym: tranquil, composed, fair, august

Antonym: agitated, troubled, stormy, inclement

sheepish

Definition: (adj.) embarrassed; resembling a sheep in meekness. timid

Example: His sheepish grin made the crowds cheer all the more for his unlikely victory.

Synonym: shamefaced, meek

Antonym: bold, saucy, brazen, confident

stamina

Definition: (n.) the strength needed to keep going or overcome physical or mental strain; staying power

Example: Marathon runners need a great deal of stamina.

Synonym: endurance

Collocations

Collocations are the habitual juxtaposition of a particular word with another word or words with a frequency greater than chance. In plain English, they are words that usually used together. Haven't you wondered about the most appropriate verb to use with a certain noun, or a more natural adjective, etc. We have already talked about the words above, but here, you will expand the usage of these words even further.
Confront
  • directly He is willing to confront problems directly. | immediately, suddenly
  • PHRASES be confronted with sth I was suddenly confronted by the task of rewriting the entire book. find yourself confronted by sth The demonstrators found themselves confronted by a line of police, blocking the road.
Constrained | Constraint

Constrained

  • VERBS be, feel
  • severely, tightly She felt tightly constrained by Her family commitments.

Constraint

  • important, major | severe, tight The government has placed tight constraints on spending this year. | budget, financial
  • VERB + CONSTRAINT impose, place, put | remove
  • PREP. within a/the ~ We have to work within severe constraints. without ~ I felt free to speak to her without constraint. | ~ on/upon There are major financial constraints on all schools.
Contemporary

belonging to the same time as sb/sth else

  • VERBS be
  • ADV strictly She used only strictly contemporary documents to research the book. | almost, nearly | broadly, roughly a period broadly contemporary with the Shang dynasty
  • with a composer contemporary with Beethoven

modern

  • VERBS be
  • ADV very His work is very contemporary.
Depict

ADV. vividly The book vividly depicts French society of the 1930s.

Groundless
  • VERBS be, prove, seem
  • ADV completely, entirely, quite, totally, utterly Our fears proved totally groundless. | largely
Incomprehensible
  • VERBS be, seem | remain | find sth She found his accent virtually incomprehensible.
  • completely, quite, totally, utterly | almost, nearly, virtually | largely | pretty
  • PREP. to Latin verse remained completely incomprehensible to me.
Manipulate
  • easily They believe that voters can be easily manipulated. | successfully | deftly, delicately, skilfully | deliberately, systematically | genetically genetically manipulated organisms
  • VERB + MANIPULATE be able to, can I attempt to, try to Children try to manipulate you. | be easy to | know how to, learn (how) to She knows how to manipulate the audience.
  • PHRASES the ability to manipulate sb/sth
Maximum
  • absolute | agreed, recommended Do not exceed the recommended maximum of three tablets a day. | legal, statutory
  • VERB + MAXIMUM reach, rise to The temperature reached a maximum of 35’C yesterday. | exceed | allow (sb/sth), permit (sb/sth) In the exam, allow yourself a maximum of 30minutes per question. | the maximum permitted speeds | limit sth to, restrict sth to The amount you have to pay will be limited to a maximum of £500.
  • above (the)~, at (the) a journey of four hours at the maximum below (the)~, to (the)~ He is using his talents
  • to the maximum. (up) to a/the~ | -of You can claim the allowance for a maximum of six months.
  • PHRASES maximum possible They fined her the maximum possible for the offence.
Mimic
  • ADV accurately, closely The computer model is able to mimic very closely the actions of a golfer. | exactly, perfectly She could mimic her father perfectly.
  • VERB + MIMIC try to
Serene | Serenity

Serene

  • VERBS be, feel, look, sound | remain
  • very | perfectly, utterly | almost | quite | outwardly beneath the outwardly serene surface

Serenity

  • absolute Her face had an expression of absolute serenity. | comparative She escaped to the comparative serenity of the kitchen.
  • VERB + SERENITY achieve, find
  • with ~ She was able to face death with serenity.
  • | ~ of older people who have achieved a serenity of understanding
  • PHRASES a feeling of serenity
Stamina
  • great | mental, physical
  • VERB + STAMINA have She didn’t have the stamina to complete the course. | lack | need, require | build (up), increase Aerobic exercise helps to build up stamina.
  • PHRASES reserves of stamina Emma Walton had to call on all her reserves of stamina to win the10000 meters. a test of stamina Final exams at university can be as much a test of stamina as of knowledge.

Usage Notes

Usage Notes delve deeper in one or more of the words mentioned above to discuss the etymology of a certain word and the possible confusion there might be between this word and another word with a close meaning, pronunciation, or spelling. This part is for word geeks. Sometimes, there might be some extra bonus usage notes about other words as well.
adverse or averse

 

These words express different kinds of negative orientation: adverse relates to external circumstances, while averse gets inside the individual:

With such adverse judgements on his case, he was still averse to reconsidering the action.

Adverse is commonly applied to legal or official conditions that are hostile, or to threatening natural forces, as in adverse weather conditions or an adverse reaction to a drug. Averse expresses strong disinclination, though the idiom not averse to is used lightly or ironically, as in not averse to a little whisky.

While adverse is mostly used attributively, averse is almost always predicative

Grammar thus tends to keep them apart – but not entirely. In both the UK and the US, there’s evidence of adverse being used predicatively, and when the subject is personal there may be some doubt about the writer’s intention. See for example:

Courts have not been adverse to developing the common law.

Purity campaigners were not adverse to drawing on science to validate morality.

Contemporary or Contemporaneous

 

As adjectives, both can mean “occurring at the same point or period in time,” and both collocate with with:

Shakespeare was contemporary with Queen Elizabeth I.

The use of cast iron in China was almost contemporaneous with that of forged iron in Europe.

Some have suggested that contemporaneous usually couples with inanimates and contemporary with human beings, as these examples happen to show. But if there is any such tendency, it probably results as much from the fact that contemporary is an everyday word, while contemporaneous appears most often in

academic and abstract discourse.

Other points to note:

Contemporary has no adverb, but relies on contemporaneous for it: (contemporaneously)

 

disinterest, and disinterested or uninterested

 

The primary and most frequent meaning of disinterest is “lack of interest,” and in BNC (British National Corpus) data this is its use about 90% of the time. This helps to explain the uphill battle with disinterested, which many linguists have tried to insist does not mean / cannot be used to mean “bored.” They are driven by a desire to neatly distinguish disinterested from uninterested as follows:

disinterested = “unbiased,” “having no vested interest,” as in being asked to step in as the disinterested negotiator

uninterested = “indifferent,” “feeling or showing no mental involvement,” “bored,” as in begging an unknown, possibly uninterested deity for help

 

hypercritical or hypocritical

 

The first of these is easily explained in terms of hyper- (“excessively”) and critical:

The reviews were hypercritical of his piano technique.

Hypercritical is a relatively recent word (only four centuries old), whereas hypocritical goes back to Greek theatre. It owes its meaning to hypocrite, which in Greek referred to the mime who accompanied the delivery of an actor with gestures. It then came to mean anyone speaking under a particular guise.

 

maximum

 

In scientific use, as when referring to the highest temperatures recorded, the plural is maxima.

Elsewhere the anglicized plural maximums comes naturally.

Stamen and stamina

The plural of stamen, the pollen-bearing organ of a flower is usually stamens. Very rarely it appears as stamina, which is its correct Latin plural. This is one and the same word as stamina meaning “physical resilience.” In Latin stamen/stamina meant “thread(s),” and as Roman myth had it, the threads of life were spun by the Fates until a person’s dying day.

So the idea that stamina related to longevity is very old, though our use of it to refer to someone’s staying power on the tennis court (and elsewhere) is relatively new.

Common Mistakes

Common Mistakes are named common because they are as such, common, so anyone of us may make these mistakes from time to time. Don't be shy. Take a look, for you might learn something new in this section. The common mistakes are usually in using the words mentioned above, but sometimes, there might be some bonus words as well.
Above all

He likes reading, above all novels.

He likes reading, especially novels.

Above all means ‘most importantly’: ‘Get plenty of sleep, eat lots of good food, and above all try to relax.’ ‘There were many qualities that made him a great leader. Above all, he had charisma.’

This year English is above all my most important subject.

This year English is by far my most important subject.

With a superlative form (‘the most important’), use by far: ‘The riot was by far the most horrific scene I’d ever witnessed.’

Where would you like to go above all?

Where would you like to go most of all?

When you mean ‘more than anywhere/anything/anyone else’, use most of all or the most: ‘What worries me most of all is that the car is not roadworthy.’ ‘The one I liked the most was too expensive.’

Borrow

I asked my friend to borrow me some money .

I asked my friend to lend me some money.

He borrowed me some of his books .

He lent me some of his books.

I borrowed some of his books.

When you borrow something (from someone), you are allowed to use it: ‘Can I borrow one of your pencils?’

When you lend something (to someone), you let them use it: ‘He asked me to lend him one of my pencils.’

Deny

He asked his parents to help him, but they denied .

He asked his parents to help him, but they refused.

When she denied to wear the uniform, she was dismissed .

When she refused to wear the uniform, she was dismissed.

deny sth = say that it is not true: ‘He has been accused of stealing a car, but he denies it.’ ‘Both companies denied that they had been discharging toxic waste.’

refuse (to do sth) = say that you will not do it: ‘Employers are refusing to discuss a pay settlement until the staff return to work.’ ‘The students were told to leave the building, but they refused.’

She asked him if he had seen a little boy but he denied .

She asked him if he had seen a little boy but he said he hadn’t.

You deny an accusation or claim (NOT a question): ‘The accused denied both charges.’ ‘He denied being anywhere near the scene of the crime.’

She accused him of cheating but he denied .

She accused him of cheating but he denied it.

Deny is a transitive verb: ‘He denied that he forged the signature.’ ‘He denied having forged the signature.’ ‘He denied it.’

Opinion

According to Henry’s opinion, less money should be spent on weapons.

In Henry’s opinion, less money should be spent on weapons.

According to Henry, less money should be spent on weapons.

according to sb: ‘According to Peter, deforestation is.a very serious problem.’

in Sb’ opinion (NOT according toopinion): ‘In Peter’s opinion, deforestation is a serious problem.’

They are not afraid of saying their opinions.

They are not afraid of expressing their opinions .

express/give your opinion (NOT say) ‘The newspapers express a wide range of political opinons.’

Recommend

I recommend you a walk along the Seine.

I recommend a walk along the Seine.

I wouldn’t recommend to let your children watch it.

I wouldn’t recommend that you let your children watch it.

I wouldn’t recommend letting your children watch it.

recommend sth: ‘Can you recommend a good hotel?’

recommend that: ‘My accountant recommends that I should open an offshore account.’ ‘We recommend you choose your wedding ring about three months in advance.’ ‘They recommend that 100 be regarded as a minimum number.’

recommend doing sth: ‘I’d never recommend sending a young child to boarding school.’

British English also uses recommend sb to do sth: ‘I wouldn’t recommend you to let your children watch it.’

Weekly Theme - Comparison and contrast

In the weekly theme section, Hungry Writer picks a theme and rallies all the related words around it, so next time when you strike that little blank paper of yours, your arsenal in a given topic will be a force to reckon with.
Talking about Similarity

 

Key Word: affinity

Collocation
I often feel there is a cultural affinity between London and New York. | I felt an affinity with the writer as I read this novel.

Meaning
closeness; feeling that different things/people have much in common

 

Key Word: akin

Collocation
Their music is more akin to that of the Beatles than to the Spice Girls.

Meaning
similar in spirit/feel

 

Key Word: analogy

Collocation
To use a sporting analogy, middle-age is like half-time at a football match.

Meaning
see similarities that help us understand something

 

Key Word: correspond

Collocation
The picture this news article paints does not correspond to the truth.

Meaning
is not equal to/does not match

 

Key Word: equate

Collocation
It’s a mistake to equate the price of something with its true value.

Meaning
consider as the same

 

Key Word: tantamount

Collocation
She knew that to apologize would be tantamount to admitting she had failed.

Meaning
the equivalent of (normally used in negative contexts)

 

Key Word: interchangeable

Collocation
The goals of the two sides in the war have become almost interchangeable.

Meaning
so similar that they could be exchanged one for the other

 

Key Word: indistinguishable

Collocation
Mrs. Burton’s shop was indistinguishable from all the others in the street.

Meaning
so similar you cannot see the difference

 

Talking about difference

 

Adjective: diverse

Contexts/Comments
used of different types of something

Example
The diverse ethnic groups living in Malaysia give the country its cultural richness.

 

Adjective: disparate

Contexts/Comments
used of different types within a group, but emphasizes separation and difference

Example
The disparate regions of Spain all have unique customs and cultures.

 

Adjective: dissimilar

Contexts/Comments
very often used with not

Example
This house is not dissimilar to the one I was born in.

 

Adjective: divergent

Contexts/Comments
often used of contrasting opinions or ideas

Example
They had widely divergent opinions.

 

Adjective: distinct

Contexts/Comments
used to describe differences where one might be deceived by similarities

Example
The Swedish and Norwegian languages are quite distinct from one another, even though they look similar when written.

 

Adjective: discrete

Contexts/Comments
different and separate, not overlapping

Example
There are several discrete categories of verbs in English.

 

Allusions - Ambition

An allusion is an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly, and here is where Hungry Writer steps in to reveal those characters, events or places, which are used as allusions. As a writer, you can use these in your future writings, but as a reader, you will get to understand why Hercules is mentioned in a modern day novel, or what the heck do Penelope's tears have to do with a poem about World War II ... or who is Penelope in the first place?!
Ambition

This theme covers ambition for power and aspiration for social status. The myth of Icarus can be used to symbolize the fall of one who overreaches.

Mrs. Bennet

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813), the vulgar, gossipy Mrs. Bennet is preoccupied with finding wealthy husbands for her five unmarried daughters.

So, by some mysterious transference, the children’s birthday party has turned into a battleground of social ambitions, ripe for the attention of a contemporary Jane Austen. No one considers the embarrassment of the mother who can’t afford to keep up, or the danger of turning our children into spoilt little brats. Or is it merely a harmless indulgence in parental pride? After all, today’s Mrs. Bennets aren’t trying to marry off their five-year-olds, they just want the fun of dressing them up and clucking over them.

The Independent, 1996

Icarus

In Greek mythology, Icarus and Daedalus flew on wings which Daedalus had constructed, in an attempt to escape from Crete. However, Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax which held the wings in place melted, and Icarus fell to his death in the sea. Icarus can be alluded to as someone who fails because of excessive ambition.

He was Icarus now and on the very verge of challenging gravity, or Cod, depending how one looked at it.

Jenny Diski Happily Ever After, 1991

Lady Macbeth

In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth (1623), Lady Macbeth, ambitious for her husband’s advancement, spurs him on to murder King Duncan so that Macbeth will seize the throne. Wives who appear to display a cold-blooded ruthlessness in furthering their husband’s career are often compared to Lady Macbeth.

‘Why don’t you get her to play in the shop? A personal appearance? You’ve never done one of those before. … And you’d probably sell a few of her tapes, and probably a couple of extra things besides. And you could get it put into the Time Out gigs list.’

‘Ooer, Lady Macbeth. Calm down and listen to the music!

Nick Hornby High Fidelity, 1995

Lady Would-Be

Lady Would-Be and her husband, Sir Politic Would-Be, are characters in Ben Jonson’s comedy Volpone (1606), both pompous, foolish, and, as their name suggests, socially ambitious.

And whomsoever you are to go to, will excuse you, when they are told ’tis / that command you not to go; and you may excuse it too, young Lady Would-be, if you recollect, that ’tis the unexpected arrival of your late lady’s daughter, and your master’s sister, that requires your attendance on her.

Samuel Richardson Pamela, 1740

Idiomatic Expressions - Describing Problems

Idiomatic Expressions have always been a mystery because they are very specific, and they can be appropriate in one situation, but irrelevant or even rude in other situations. We will try to choose some common ones which can be used with minimum collateral damage.
I’ve come up against a brick wall.

Something is blocking me from doing what I want to do

 

I put my foot in it

Said something tactless and embarrassing

I’m in dire straits.

In a very difficult or dangerous situation

I’ve dug myself into a hole.

Have myself caused a problem that will be difficult to escape from

 

I’ve spread myself too thin

Am trying to do too many things at the same time, with the result that I can’t give any of them the attention they need

 

I’ve been left holding the baby.

Others have left me to deal with a problem alone

 

They’ve got me over a barrel.

Have put me in a situation where I have no choice over what I can do

 

I’ve come up against a stumbling block.

A problem which stops me from achieving something

 

I’m clutching at straws now.

Am in such a difficult situation that I will try anything

 

I’ve drawn a blank

Am unable to find information or to achieve something I’d hoped for

 

So now we are all going to have to face the music.

Accept criticism or punishment for what you have done

 

Hungry Writer Worksheets

Congratulations! You have reached this far in the post, and you can use the worksheets below to practice what you have learned.

Download For the Love of English 02 Worksheet

Quiz

Take the quiz to check your retention and understanding of the new words you learned in For the Love English 02

For the Love of English 02 Quiz

Check your retention and understanding of the new words you learned in For the Love of English 02.

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